Why Comply?

Does your business operate three-quarter or heavier trucks? Do your company vehicles pull trailers? Does your company operate larger single axle trucks or transport two or more compressed gas cylinders or other regulated materials? If so, then the Department of Transportation Regulations, most likely apply to your business. Are you ready for "A DOT Review? Unless you are willing to bet the farm or business you had better know what your odds of passing that review are and how to ensure compliance.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are a part of the larger Department of Transportation (DOT) 49 CFR requirements. These regulations were originally promulgated in the 1930s to promote safety in motor carrier highway operations that involve interstate and foreign commerce. In 1986, the "Safety Regulations were revised under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act and all states were required to adopt the regulations into law or develop even stricter requirements. The states faced loss of highway revenues (MICSAP funds) for failure to comply. In July of 1987, these regulations became effective not only for conventional trucking companies, but also for any company that has trucks which meet the definition of a commercial motor vehicle.

The FMCSR primarily regulate drivers and vehicles when they are on public ways. They apply to any company in commerce which operates vehicles greater than a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) or combination truck and trailer rating greater than 10,000 pounds. Therefore, even a pickup and trailer could place a company into the program. The use of the weight rating of the axles to determine whether or not vehicles fall within the requirements has generated confusion among companies who have trucks but do not consider themselves to be "trucking" companies. In addition, any size vehicle that transports hazardous materials even in small quantities, are regulated by these requirements.

The FMCSR are located in 49 CFR Parts 382 through 399. Parts 382 and 383 ONLY apply to Commercial Driver Licensed (CDL) drivers. However, since these drivers operate vehicles over 26,000 pounds gvwr, which is also > 10,000, then, Parts 390–399 also apply to these vehicles and drivers. For those who only drive vehicles with gvwr of 26,000 pounds or less, only Parts 390–399 apply. Part 387 applies to companies who are not self-insured. Many other Parts and changes have been added in the last few years, such as Part 385, Safety Fitness Procedures. Bottom line, these regulations offer many opportunities for your company to be penalized and end up in liability suits.

Who is Responsible?

OSHA, DOT, EPA, ATF and a host of other oversight groups write environmental, safety and health regulations. You can bet a bundle, that DOT will hold "someone" responsible for compliance if the regulations apply to your business. It is very important that the responsible person know the requirements and inform management in a timely manner to facilitate appropriate compliance plans.

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